By Larry Clinton
Sausalito Historical Society
In 1875, Sausalito was still maturing from a bucolic hamlet into a small city.
Two years after its incorporation, the town boasted a railroad terminal and ferry landing, but the streets were still unpaved, and streetlights were just beginning to be installed.
Nothing illustrates the pastoral nature of early Sausalito like a couple of ordinances passed by the Board of Trustees and published in the Sausalito News that fall. One new law made it “unlawful for any person to herd or picket or permit [animals] to run at large upon any public street within the corporate limits of the Town of Sausalito,” with certain exceptions.
The ordinance empowered the Poundmaster and Marshal of the Town “to take into custody any animal found upon the public streets of the Town of Sausalito, in violation of the provisions of Section 1 of this ordinance, and immediately place the same in the Public Pound of said town. Any animal found trespassing upon any private enclosure in this town may be taken up by any person and committed to the custody of the Pound Keeper, who shall hold the same subject to the provisions of this ordinance.”
The Poundmaster was responsible for keeping “a true record of the number and description of all animals taken into custody and of the time when taken and of the manner of their disposal,” and posting a list and description of these delinquent critters “at the Postoffice door and at the office of the Town Clerk.” If an animal was not redeemed within five days, it was to be sold “at public auction without further notice.”
Any person claiming to own one of the missing animals could redeem it on paying the Poundmaster “For each horse, mare, cow, bull, ox, mule, or ass, two dollars, with fifty cents a day for keeping. For each colt or calf under one year old and for each hog, one dollar, with twenty cents per day for keeping. For each sheep, goat or pig, fifty cents, and fifteen cents per day for keeping.”
A second ordinance made it unlawful “for any person to deposit within the corporate limits of the Town of Sausalito any dead animal or to suffer the same to be or remain upon any premises in said town owned or occupied and controlled by such person, unless so soon as such dead animal shall be deposited upon such premises, and so long as the same shall remain upon any such premises, such dead animal shall be buried in an excavation in the earth to such a depth as to prevent any odor from such dead animal escaping into the atmosphere, and the carcass shall be covered with earth to depth of not less than four feet.”
As an alternative, the ordinance permitted animal carcasses to be deposited in the bay “at least eight hundred yards from shore.”
The law also addressed another offense in those pre-plumbing days, stating that any “sink, cesspool, vault, privy or other place for the reception of excrement or filth shall be so constructed as to entirely prevent any deposit therein from running over the surface of the same, or from percolating through the soil,” in order to “entirely prevent the odor of the excrement or deposit therein from escaping into the atmosphere surrounding the same.”
Sometimes the good old days can help us appreciate even more what we have today.